President Lee Myung-bak and leaders of three political parties held a luncheon meeting yesterday, 25 days after the naval patrol ship Cheonan sank. They failed, however, to create a joint statement to comfort the people. Though the presidential office released details on the menu including fried abalone and steamed cabrilla, it did not mention what was said at the meeting. Technically speaking, Presidential Lee and the three party leaders had a conversation over steamed cabrilla and just parted without fruit. This is a disappointing response by political leaders to a national security crisis, in which 46 sailors were killed in the ships sinking.
The ruling and opposition parties should closely cooperate to deal with national security. President Lee said Monday, Ill examine what caused the Cheonan to sink in detail and take stern countermeasures in a radio address, and cried while naming the 46 dead crewmen the same day. Yesterday`s meeting, however, was far from the pledge of the president.
The presidential office said the president asked the three party leaders to handle the Cheonan fiasco in a bipartisan manner. Yet the ruling and opposition leaders emphasized different issues. Main opposition Democratic Party Chairman Chung Sye-kyun proposed a probe into the cause of the sinking and holding the people in charge responsible. Minor conservative Liberty Forward Party leader Lee Hoi-chang emphasized the governments response to North Korea, considering the possibility that the North might have caused the incident. In short, the luncheon was nothing more than a meeting to speak their minds. As leaders in charge of state affairs, the president and the leaders of the ruling and opposition parties should understand the severity of the incident and issue a stern warning against those who caused the Cheonan to sink.
The government and the ruling and opposition parties should closely cooperate to investigate the cause of the sinking and implement an effective response. After the incident, the bereaved families of the victims have struggled to help the government effectively deal with the incident and the people have worked in harmony. On the other hand, recent moves by political leaders are shameful. South Korea is certainly at a critical moment. North Korea has denied involvement in the incident, saying, Our enemy has spread false information that the external explosion of the Cheonan was caused by a torpedo highly likely from one of our submarines or semi-submarines. After seizing South Korean assets in the Mount Kumgang area, the North even launched a threatening inspection of the Kaesong industrial complex Monday. Pyongyang will further look down on Seoul and its political leaders who held an ineffective and useless meeting amid North Koreas provocations.
At the meeting of advisers of the National Unification Advisory Council, President Lee mentioned the Norths fireworks to celebrate its founder Kim Il Sungs birthday. I believe North Korea should recover its senses, he said. The same could be said for South Koreas political circles, which need to recover their senses in facing a national crisis.